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Punctuation for Better English Writing: The Full Stop

Updated: Feb 21


closeup of computer keyboard showing full stop and comma keys
comma and full stop


Introduction - Punctuation for better English writing


      

In a previous article, I wrote about the comma.


On a keyboard, the comma is to the left of this article's punctuation mark - the full stop.



Full stop? Or period?


Americans prefer to call it a 'period'.


As I'm Australian, I'm going to refer to it as a 'full stop'.


I'm not a very good typist, so I often forget which key to press. And I need my glasses to check because the icons on the key are so small. it's easy to use the wrong one.



How and when to use full stops


Full stops do one thing: they mark the end of a sentence. If we didn't use full stops ...


Well have a look at this:


       "yes i do only pensioners and our elders get free service from me the counsel do not remove snakes in open areas"


Apart from the spelling mistakes, there is not one punctuation mark in the two lines.


To me, it seems this would be how the person might sound if they were speaking.


And I'm sure if we were to listen to the person speaking they would pause after 'do', and 'me' and 'areas'.


And it would make perfect sense, right?


But it's written text, not spoken text.


And yes, it's an example of informal writing - a Facebook comment.

Think of your reader

 But, as writers, we must always consider our audience, our readers; WE know what we mean but do our readers?


This was not a difficult comment to understand.


I've seen much worse.


I have had to reread, inserting punctuation (commas and full stops, in particular) as I go, to understand.


Only then, can I make sense of the piece of writing.


It needn't be like that!

Full stops achieve clear communication

Correct punctuation, helps deliver clear communication between the writer and the reader.


So, let's rewrite the piece (fixing spelling errors too!) with full stops.


Here, we need no commas.


"Yes I do. Only pensioners and our elders get free service from me. The council does not remove snakes in open areas."


Now, that's much better, right? Much clearer?

A simple rule for full stops


Remember the simple rule: sentences always end with full stops.


(Unless they end with exclamation marks or question marks)


As you read my article, you can see that I have demonstrated the rule many times.



Capitalisation


A relevant point to make is that we capitalise the first letter of the next word in the next sentence - that is, after the full stop. MS Word automatically capitalises these words.


There are always exceptions to the rule.


For example: a writer's style.


Or if, say someone prefers to spell their name with lower case characters.




Other kinds of full stops

Full stops in URLs

Another point to make is that URLs use full stops - as you are aware.


And you are also aware that we don't say 'full stop' we say 'dot' - but ONLY when dictating or saying the URL out loud.


So, my URL would be 'said' as: "w w w dot apexenglishtutoring dot com dot A-U".

Used in direct speech

Finally, as this example showed (" ... dot A-U".), we place the full stop outside the double inverted commas.


But not if it's part of the spoken text. E.g. “I should be going.”

The Chinese full stop

Chinese English students writing using a keyboard, often use the Chinese full stop.


It's a small circle that takes the space of one Chinese character. Like this: ( 。 ).


If you're interested it's called 句号/jù hào.


But, when they write with a pen, it's usually (but not always) a Western form of a full stop.



Conclusion


And that's all you need to know about the full stop/period.


It's such an important and basic punctuation mark to know and use.


Learn the proper use of it and your English writing will be much better.





Further Reading


If you'd like to read more, to improve your English punctuation, there are other articles here.






© Apex English Tutoring Nov 2020 - Updated January 2024




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About Me


Hello and welcome!


My name is Michael Finemore and I am the owner-operator of Apex English Tutoring.


As an experienced English Teacher, I'm passionate about helping people turn their 'poor' English into great English, with easy and effective ways to practice.






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